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A creative blog on The Whole 9

The Photography Blog is written by members of The Whole 9 Creative Photography Circle. For a short “bio” on today’s contributor, scroll down to the bottom of the blog. Enjoy! – Mike Hayward, editor

Love in the time of anarchy

The night of the Vancouver hockey riots, street photographer Richard Lam thought he saw a man helping a woman who may have been hurt.

On closer inspection, Lam lifted his camera and caught this classic shot.

Love in The Time of Anarchy credit: Richard Lam/Getty Images


This iconic!….as classic as the Kent state photograph, the WWII photo of the sailor embracing the nurse in Times square or the Woodstock album cover photo!

Wow… Brilliant, lucky capture! An amazing photo!

Who says that Canadians are a ‘bland’ nation, not as passionate and emotional nor as violent and insane as the rest of the world?

Where You Been, Photography Blog?

Every so often you want to step back and observe your surroundings.   Get the BIG picture, y’know?  Focus on other things.  Sharpen that darkened image in your mind…

No, I’m not talking about photography, silly!  I’m talking ’bout ME!  Mike Hayward!  The so-called editor of The Photography Blog.

Yes, I’ve been a’traveling, man.  I’ve been back to the east coast to visit my Jersey shore roots, up to the Vermont woods trying to get a fix on the half-acre lot my folks left me but nobody seems to know really where it is… down to the Florida property to see how far and high the tide comes in… and (get this) no where along the way did I lift a viewfinder to my eye.  Why?  Because…

Every so often you want to step back and observe your surroundings.   Get the BIG picture, y’know?  Focus on other things.  Sharpen that darkened image in your mind.  Stop taking pictures and start making memories.

I’ve been taking some time to see what things look like without a camera in the way.   And you know what?  Strangely enough, I like my digital images better.  That may sound a bit sicko, but stepping away from the camera every now and again can renew an appreciation of not how the world is, but how you’d like it to be.

So, it was a good thing, putting the camera down and lifting my eyes up to the real world for a bit.  Re-focusing my mind on what’s out there instead of what’s in the LCD.

The next time I pick up my camera I’ll be looking at the world a little differently.  And, I pray God it’s through the lens of a Canon 60D.


Hey Mike! Great to see you back! And yes…looking at the world a bit differently IS a good thing…reminds me of a quote by T.S. Eliot ~~

And the end of all our exploring,
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.

Thanks, Lisa. And thanks for the T. S. Elliot quote!

There’s another quote I can’t quite remember but it goes something like this -

The best vacation isn’t one where you travel the world learning all about new places and different people; the best vacation is the one where you come home and realize that you’ve learned a great deal – about yourself.

Hi Mike- I ask and whatdya know, here are you are!

I know what you mean about looking at stuff. I find the camera to be like a divining rod, a psychic antenna, to be followed, to be used… for discovery, for exploration, and oddly enough for a medium that’s premised on surface reflections, for getting in touch with what’s deeper. What’s beneath and beyond the surface. Both with regard to the subject and in oneself.

So yeah, I very much relate to that feeling where what one sees through the camera is often “better”, more interesting and more powerful than what one sees just in passing. It focuses my attention. It sharpens my senses. And it can be the means, the intermediary as it were, for revelation. I think that’s kind of the big secret behind all the geeky talk one hears about lenses and tripods and technical details.

Good to have you back!

Mike, Welcome back!!!! I felt like a starving dog…waiting for a bone. You from Jersey…..I’m from Jersey…exit 172….since we’re all quoting, I’ll leave you with one I use in my photography classes, from one of the giants of the 20th century, Paul Strand.
“So finally, it can be seen that what I have explored all my life is the world on my doorstep…The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found everywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away.”

Welcome back I also say! I do know what you are talking about. It has taken me about 6 months to get back to wanting to create anything after my Sister’s passing and moving back to my childhood home. Taking a step back indeed! Now I am ready to move forward and the camera and the paintbrush are both in my hand. It is exciting and refreshing to have a new perspective and a new sense of creativity. Good for you, good for me and good for the world who really needs our creativity!

Images That Make You Stop and . . .

While researching the whys and wherefores of image colorization in 50s commercial art, I came across the phollowing image on a Web site called “Inspiredology” -

(Photo cortesy: Nils Jorgensen, street photographer.

It was one of those images you run across and, in spite of your intellectual inertia, leaves startled skid marks across your cerebrum.  “Whoa!!!” your brain says. “What the HELL was THAT?!”

(Photo courtesy: Marcin Cecko, Kidults)

“WHOA! What’s going on HERE?!   Something’s really out of whack here . . . but what?”

(Photo courtesy: Joanna Justra, Sensual)

WHOA! Did I just fall head over heels in love with a pair of eyes? Who is she? Are  her eyes really that pearlized shade of blue?!?

Okay, you get the point.  Images that are so stunning  (“stunning,” at least, to most eyes)  that your brain hits the brakes and your mind screams  “Stop!  STOP!   GO BACK!!”

And, as Rod Serling used to say on The Twilight Zone,   “Submitted for your consideration…”   Take a moment or several to consider the images offered up as “Stunning examples of photography” on a Web site called “Inspiredology” (   Scroll down the page.  Use your cursor to click through the images that fascinate you the most to get to the Web sites where they originated.

Put your photographic brain in gear.   But remember to keep your foot on the brake pedal!

About the Author: MIKE HAYWARD is the editor of The Whole 9 Photography Blog and the Grand Poobah of  the Whole 9 Creative Photography Circle – where he invites Whole 9 photography members to join in and communicate and share images and ideas with other photographers of all kinds.  Mike’s semi-personal, semi-professional Web site can be found at .


Very cool site! I particularly like the fact that the selected photos link to the photographer’s own sites with more images and info. Some I find more striking & memorable than others. Originality goes a long ways in my book, as does inspired composition and emotionally or intellectually charged images. Others have different things they respond to, sometimes with no more reflection than, “I like it, don’t know why.”

Personally, I tend to like art for art’s sake more than most commercial work, although I recognize and respect the craft that goes into high level commercial photography. For me, so much commercial photography seems slick, derivative, manipulative, obvious and inauthentic; characteristics that strip an image of it’s power and emotional impact. Certainly there are exceptions, photographers like Annie Leibovitz, a quintessential commercial pro who also creates some of the most imaginative and original images out there. By the way, I don’t just indict commercial photographers. Many of the images we artists and non-professionals produce I’ve also seen a thousand times before; you know, all the sunsets, pretty flowers, well-framed trees and buildings, rainbows, snow-capped mountains with a lake in front (at sunset)… Not that I’m saying these simple pleasures can’t be art too, they just need to be handled much more carefully and perceptively if they’re to cut through the clutter.

Which leads me to ask, what constitutes an exceptional image? Is it just in the eye of the beholder? If so, then the intrinsically subjective nature of exceptionality makes any judgement moot: The only measure of greatness is what grabs you personally and makes you say, “wow”. And If we accept that definition, then there really is no difference between greatness and mediocrity. Is that the bottom line? Perhaps. For me, I think that’s where critics come in; people with a depth of knowledge about the art, with a trained, experienced eye and possessed of the ability to respond to and analyze a piece of art on many levels, then articulately explain those thoughts and reactions. People often complain about critics, and often with good reason, but this is the invaluable service they render. We may agree, we may disagree but at least we’re provoked with their thought-out opinion. As for judgement, the accretion of popular and/or critical opinion then determines the quality of a work of art, at least for now and for those who care.

For most of us, we will decide for ourselves by, as Michael says, “hitting the brakes and screaming, ’stop! go back!’” when we encounter an extraordinary, “stunning image”. Hopefully that happens a lot because I truly believe that if we wish to produce outstanding images, we must never lose our ability to be awed and electrified by an ‘outstanding’ image.

Image Quality Levels (for reference only):

Level 1. (Quasi-appreciative grunt)
Level 2. (Mumbled “Congratulations” covered by a cough)
Level 3. “Interesting…”
Level 4. “This is very interesting. Did you shoot this yourself?”
Level 5. “Very nice! Do you do any ‘fine art’ nudes?”
Level 6. “Wow! Ever thought of becoming a professional photographer?
Oh! You are? Do make a lot of money?”
Level 7. “This is very good! How much for an eight-by-ten, framed?”
Level 8. “Great image! How much for a twelve-by-sixteen print of this?”
Level 9. “Outstanding! Can I get a sixteen-by-twenty print of this?”
Level 10. “Exceptional image! Can I get a twenty-four-by-thirty canvas print
of this? Autographed?”

Ha ha ha ha ha… Very funny, Michael. lol

Great looking around. I am still learning to like digitally altered work. Yes, the eyes have it in this one. I understand the commercial aspect but I loved altering the image in the dark room or thru the lens initially. I am learning and letting go a bit.
Love the Score card.

Thank you, C.K.
It’s a whole new “darkroom” now – no more vinegary stop bath smell.

Five Tips for Photographing People

Trey Ratcliff ( offers up a short list of tips for photographing people on the street.  While I’m not necessarily 100 percent in agreement with all that Trey says, he does bring up some good points.  See what you agree with and tell us what you think he left out.

1) “Keep an extra camera ready for people shots.  When walking the streets, I normally have my “big” (D3X) camera ready to go for city landscape shots. My tripod is on.  My wide-angle is on.  It’s in that “mode”.  If I am going to have to switch lenses, it will take forever, and the moment will be lost.  So, I carry a second camera (D3S) on a sling around my shoulder for people shots.  On that camera, I have a 50mm prime lens.  Now, you don’t have to have this exact setup by any means, but having ANY kind of second camera for people shots is recommended.

2) “If they are clearly not looking at you and will not notice you, just start taking photos.  You’re a photographer, dammit.  Just do it.

3) “If they ARE likely to notice you, be confident and deliberate, softly asking permission with your eyes.  This is a very subtle and hard thing to explain.  I usually raise my eyebrows while I raise my camera, clearly indicating, ‘I’m about to take a photo.  Everything is okay.’  If they don’t want you to, they will make it clear.  Usually, they say it’s just fine.  People like to be thought of as interesting.

4) “If they are very close, I ask permission out loud.  Often times, I don’t want them to pose… so I say something (smiling!) like, ‘You look very interesting — can I take a photo?’  Once they say yes (98% of the time they do), I usually ask them not to pose and carry on about their business.  Then I start taking a bunch of photos and enjoy the pressure of capturing the moment.

5) “Don’t be shy!  You’re not a 9-year-old girl.”

Photo credits: Top five images  -;  last image  (directly above)  c. Bart Everett.


Hey, who is the babe in photo #5?

It’s rumored to be the Whole 9’s very own Heidi Huber. I think she should change her first name to “Hubba-Hubba”.

I think these are all great tips…but then again the only photography I take is mediocre on a good day ;)

I love photographing people but as you can see it takes me too long.

I love to take photographs of people, but aside from performance events and pre-arranged portrait sessions, I’ve never felt particularly comfortable doing it. And believe me, as a photojournalist in war zones and disaster events, I’ve been as determined to ‘get the shot’ as anyone I know. But at a certain point, grabbing the picture without permission, particularly when a person knew I was doing it, began to feel like an aggressive, almost hostile act on my part, so I ended up retreating a bit from that aspect of photography.

The thing is, I believe what makes a photo of a person interesting usually involves capturing them when they’re not self-conscious; when they’re just being themselves and interacting naturally with their environment. This is not to say I’m not looking for drama; in fact the drama, the implied narrative, the expression of emotions is what makes a photo powerful. But I’ve found that although you sometimes get lucky, the more aware a person is of the camera , even if they’re cool with it, the less powerful the shot is likely to be. The exception, as I’ve noted previously on this blog, is where you actually have the time, willingness and ability to gain your subject’s trust (as Diane Arbus would do). This is where a person is most apt to expose their soul. Alternative to that, I believe the only other way to get that level of revelation is when your subject is completely unaware of you taking their picture.

So what to do? As Trey says, having a couple cameras ready to shoot is helpful. Things happen fast on the street. If you have to fiddle around, you’re gonna miss it. I also believe that the smaller and less obtrusive a camera is, the more likely you’ll get those candid, special moments. Big cameras and lenses attract attention and are intimidating. Having a powerful zoom on your compact camera is also a great help, allowing you to maintain your distance. Crowds and events, especially performance type events where people are focused on something else, are excellent places to photograph people. A bit of trickery can’t hurt either, as I’ve suggested here before, getting permission and pretending to photograph someone’s prize poodle is an excellent way to also photograph them at close range. I’ve also found that having an accomplice can be helpful; a pretty wife or charming boyfriend to engage someone in conversation will distract their attention away from you (but you’ll still probably have to first ask their permission to take photos).

One last thought- It’s worth considering what one’s actually looking for and trying to accomplish in photographing people. If you’re trying to capture the flavor and reality of a particular place or situation, you’re going to have to work with the people who are there. It’s possible to stage these types of shots, but it will almost always come off as phony and theatrical. On the other hand, if your interest isn’t in a specific place or person but more about the human condition in general or the inclusion of figurative human iconography in a larger visual and/or conceptual ‘landscape’, you might consider working with a model. A truly great model/actress can often give you far more than you might expect, physically, emotionally and dramatically. You can have them dress the way you’d like, place them in the environment as you see fit and if they’re truly professional they’ll be able to intuit your direction or you can relinquish control and just let them run with it.

Simple Principles for Great Photographs

by Mike Hayward, Editor, The Whole 9 Photography Blog
It leaves me holding my breath… Two blogs in the same week.  Sometimes I don’t know what I’m thinking.

  • Well, yes, I do.  Reading through my weekly influx of photography newsletters (IR-Newslleter,  Strobist,  PhotoInduced,  Simon Plant’s ProPhotoInsights,  Photoshelter, Jim Caper’s Lensculture,  Darren Rowse’s Digital Photograph School’s New Photography Tips,  Photoradar) gets me to thinking – thinking about styles, techniques, and talent that I can only aspire to.
Someone will say, “Well, yeah, Mike…  But you can do more than aspire.  You can study them and then get out there and try to duplicate that world of photographic techniques, all those styles, and talent! Dammit, Mike! Get out there!”  To which I reply, “Well, yeah… I will.  Right after I finish sorting through all my photo newsletters and reading the ones that really look interesting (which is pretty much all of them).”
Just as a tease, one of my recent newsletters led to a web site that introduced me to a new world of image manipulation that (to me) is both exciting and almost beyond belief.  I’m going to give the techniques a go within the next few days and will report back here on this blog on what I discovered (show-ad-tell).  IF it’s what I think it is,  it might just blow your mind.  The working title for the Blog is “Shoot like Degas… Or  Klimt… or Picasso!”
Me…  I’m thinking I’ll be going for Klimt.
Coming soon, look for it.
But I digress.  Let’s talk about the simple things…  like the principles of capturing great images.  Being the astute and knowledgeable photographers I know we all are, I’m sure you’ve thought about this precept once or twice before.  What do you need, what do you have to do to get Great images? (There, I’ve capitalized the word with a capital ‘G‘.)
I invite you to contribute your thoughts with the following caveats:
1.  Keep it simple – try to say something fundamental and made of iron at the same time.
2. Okay, you have something to say other than offering one simple, fundamental principle you think makes an image Great.  You have something to say.  Who am I to deny you?  Go ahead, rant or ramble.
3.  Sure, you’ve got more to contribute than just one simple-but-Great suggestion to offer.  I expect this.  Please make subsequent suggestions as separate comments.
What I hope to do is put all these tips and ideas (attributed!) into one Photography Blog and post it in the days to come.
As always, I appreciate your thoughts and contributions.  Thank you.
Image credits, top to bottom:

Lunch atop a skyscraper. Charles C. Ebetts

Tiananmen Square,  Stuart Franklin/Magnum (Franklin has confessed that he was angry with this guy standing in front of the line of tanks… He said the guy totally messed up the shot he was after.)

Winston Churchill (taken immediately after the photographer had unceremoniously yanked Churchill’s cigar from his mouth), Yousuf Karsh

Albert Einstein, Arthur Sasse, c.Bettman/Corbis

Ali-Liston Fight, (“Rumble in the jungle?”), Neil Leifer

Afghan Woman,  Kevin McCurry, National Geographic


Well a couple simple observations, partially based on the images you posted: You don’t need photoshop. You don’t necessarily need a great camera. You do need to have your eyes open, be willing to explore and take risks and most importantly, recognize the ‘decisive moment’ when it appears and be ready to capture it.

Simple observation #6- If you’re going to photograph people at close range, it helps if they trust you.

Love the humor, Mike…and great to see you here twice in one week. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m thinking that you Rock!

I turned around and there it was, the great shot. Dangerousideas is absolutely spot on. Capturing “the moment” is simple in concept but difficult in execution. The ability of recognition and technicalities of photography must be in perfect harmony for a fraction of a second.

More often then not as both Dangerousideas and Cameron have mentioned it becomes about the “decisive moment.”

Open to any opportunity that may present itself and yes it does help to be friendly.

Photographic Lunacy

by Mike Hayward,

Editor, Whole 9 Photography Blog

With the Harvest Moon on the wane, we have the next full moon (the “Hunter’s Moon”) to look forward to on October 23rd.

With the following images as inspiration*, perhaps it’s time to try a little astronomical photography.  All you need is a camera, a tripod, a friend or two, and (oh, yeah . . .) a little imagination.  You still have a few weeks to dream something up and try your hand at this kind of photography.  If you come up with something you feel is interesting, please send the image(s) to us at and we’ll post them here on The Photography Blog for all to admire and comment on.

*It would be wonderful to properly credit the photographers involved, but these images came attached to one of those viral e-mails  -  in other words, without proper attribution.  I will attempt to seek out the sources/photographers involved and post the results as a comment to this blog.

Ready?  Here we go . . .


Interesting. I wonder how many of these were composited vs staged? I have a photographer friend who has shot an entire library of isolated ‘moons’, mostly telephoto close-ups, that he then composites with other shots, typically landscapes, to give them more impact. Put side by side in the context of a ‘ways you can use or manipulate an iconic element’ series, I find the individual images much less impactful than any one of them would be on its own. In fact if anything, the simplicity of these images, which under other circumstances I might consider an asset, come across as simplistic. I guess, from the photographer as entertainer’s pov, if you’re going to juggle some shiny balls (or suns and moons as it were) in the air and have an audience go, “wow”, context is everything and it’s best not to reveal the mechanics behind the magic.

(?) “I find the individual images much less impactful than any one of them would be on its own.” (?)

Upon review, I _think_ I now understand what you meant by the remark “I find the individual images much less impactful than any one of them would be on its own.”

However,I think the images caught you in a more analytical frame of mind than the one I was hoping for. The purpose here was not to present images for objective analysis, but was simply meant as an inspiration for Whole 9 photographers to go out and try to achieve something similar.

No, I recognize that, you say as much at the top and by offering a handful of variations on a theme you provide ample angles of inspiration. I was simply offering the thoughts that went through my head after reading and viewing the blog and expanding, in an admittedly tangential way, upon the the possible pitfalls of creating images like these (something I’ve certainly done quite a bit of) and of how important the placement of a single image is when presented in a series with other photographs. I wasn’t a critiquing this particular set (which is being presented here to a specific end quite different from that of an artist showing a body of work). One of the points I was trying to make was that unless an artist’s intentions are to expose how images are manipulated and constructed, it’s important to parcel out these kind of images and the iconographic elements incorporated in them carefully. Otherwise one runs the risk of diluting the power of any given image or worse, having it shift from striking to cliche. Just one of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

The tendency for photographers and artists ( I’m somewhere in that stew) is to analyze and over analyze every image. Is it OK to use auto focus….what about auto exposure…what about a point and shoot….what about composite images ( we used to call it sandwich negatives). I believe it makes no never-mind how you get the final result…By the way these images made me laugh….as George Bush said, “Mission accomplished”.

Folders and Files Forever

by Cameron McIntyre, member

The Whole 9 Creative Photography Circle

Oh, the joy of the perfectly exposed, beautifully lit, flawlessly composed photograph or (more accurately) digital capture or (even more accurate but less attractive) digital file.   Oh, the joy of hundreds, thousands of perfectly exposed, beautifully lit, and flawlessly composed digital files.  Where, oh, where to do they go?

The modern photographer’s only means of escaping the tedious but critical task of naming, sorting, backing up and archiving the digital files we create is to make enough money taking the pictures so that you can hire someone else to do it.

Having a well thought out, highly organized, structured system for your RAW, PSD, TIFF, and JPEG files could be the second most important process in any photographer’s life  -  immediately following getting the capture right in the first place.  And unlike getting the photo right, there is no “right way” to do accomplish this mind numbing chore.  It really boils down to how Virgo you are.

Do you organize your socks by color or does your clean laundry stay in the basket?  When returning from a trip do you immediately unpack your suitcase or would you almost consider just buying a new one rather than ever unpacking the old one?  These are attributes to consider when creating your method for saving your image files.

I have seen computer desktops so cluttered with folders and files that a second monitor is required just to see everything.  I know a photographer who has enough free time to make up clever and creative names for each and every image he saves.  Then there is the “I’ll just buy another CF card” system or the “My files are so important I went out and earned an advanced degree in cryptography and built my image filing system with a Lorenz cipher machine.”

In the end, however, it really is “to each his/her own.”

Personally, I don’t rename the RAW files  -  I just leave them as they come out of the camera.  I do create a folder titled with the date and project name (2010-8-12-Whole9_Blog).  Within this folder I have four sub folders each with the date, project name and file type (2010-8-Whole9_Blog_Masters, PSD, TIFF, and JPEG).  All the RAW files go in the Masters folder, all the PSD files go in the PSD folder, and so forth and so on.  Once the RAW files are in the “Masters” folder, this folder gets copied to a backup drive.  Each updated folder or sub-folder is also copied to the backup drive.  I do not have a Fort Knox-type backup system of umpteen external hard drives, five or six online storage sites, plus a DVD copy, flash drive copy, and a master CF card, all of which are stored in a safe deposit box somewhere in Peru.  I figure two external hard drives are suitable.  If, one day, praise God, my images are worth real money, then that’s the day I’ll pay someone to handle those backup chores.

I number the actual file names (2010-8-Whole_Blog1).  Some people criticize numbering files, but I view it as a throw back to the days when film negatives were numbered  -  and my brain is hard wired that way.

When I create a JPEG, which I often watermark, I will save the watermarked file with a “__c” after the number which is my shorthand for the © symbol.  If I have different versions of file, I use an “a” or “b”.  I draw the line at tagging each file with keywords;  yeah, yeah, I should because it’s the “right way,” but my mind is a steel trap (yeah, right).  I am not totally insane.  I do have folders titled “Random Works of Art” and “Unclassified Images,” but those folders have my standard four sub folders with their corresponding numbered files.

So that’s my system.  I like it and I’m sticking to it.  I have no idea if it is a good system or not, but it works for me.  And, in fact, my system is not at all important;  but having some kind of system is important – especially if people are paying you for your files.  Yes, it is a monotonous, unpleasant exercise filled to capacity with potential typographical errors.  But we are photographers, not computer kooks  (with apology for any offense taken), and even a simple filing method could save you from total and certifiable insanity.

If anyone is inclined to share their personal filing system, I’m sure it would be a big help for those who are without one, especially if they could be provided with more than one example from which to develop their own.  If anyone would like to copy my system, feel free!  Or if anyone would like to criticize my system, take your best shot!  However, I should warn you… it won’t change a thing.

One last thing:  Our esteemed Photography Blog editor, Mike Hayward, has threatened to include a graphic example which diagrams my personal system.

I’m holding my breath.

CAMERON McINTYRE is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in industrial, technology, architecture and commercial photography. When Cameron is not photographing machinery, micro chips, or a building, he can be found photographing the ocean, the mountains, the desert, and the quite empty spaces that fill the mind.


At least you have a system. I too leave the RAW files with the names/numbers the camera gives them and put them into folders organized by date. The incoming files are automatically backed up to an external drive, so they’re on two drives. Then I back up the RAW files to DVDs, so they’re in three places. The few photos that get processed are sorted into folders for stock (uploads to agencies), art (sales at shows/galleries), web (small jpgs) and family (snapshots). Once in a while I’ll back up the processed files to DVDs. However, nothing lasts forever, and somewhere along the line these will have to be backed up again if they are to be preserved. Maybe the prints are the real archive.

I have drives full of images. But I feel like a hoarder. Lia, Jung and India sit on my desk and work, but Heavy Trick recently died, taking with it what I don’t know. And I don’t care. The option to think about what is or was on that drive is there, and I could spend the $23,976 to see if any of the data can be recovered. But I prefer not to as the weight on my shoulders was slightly lifted when it passed away, like that mean aunt who’s substantial will I might have been in, but not really. I put up with her for nothing. If I rummage through Lia, I can see work from multiple Europe trips, Costa Rica, portrait shoots, weddings, feature film stills, shots of children who are now hitting their teens. But there is such an anxiety that comes with all that, as though all that work and effort is blaming me for now only being an unemployed creative who can’t get a job to save his marriage. I’m like Al Bundy recounting his days as a high school football star to anybody who’ll listen, or sit through a digital slide show. Maybe I should go upstairs and wipe all the drives clean, save the active projects. I think it might free up some mental bandwidth, as I wouldn’t worry about that which I do not have. Then I’d be 100% future, files and folders be damned.

It’s true: The great, two-headed photographer Janus (pronounced “Yon-Nush”) looks ahead toward a wonderful future filled with awe-inspiring images – but he also looks backward at the ever-growing store of saved images. The first face smiles, the second face frowns.

I attempt to save all my original images to DVD, each DVD labeled by date: YY/MM/DD. For example. all of today’s bulk images (if I had actually been out on assignment) would be saved from the memory card to a DVD labeled “100817.” All of the images would be numbered on the DVD as they were number-assigned in the camera. All image DVDs are saved in a super large bulletproof CD case (from Fry’s) and forgotten about.

The memory card is then culled for the day’s best images which are copied to a graphics file labeled “100817BEST” which is then saved on an _external_ hard drive.

Returning to the memory card, the best images are re-identified and run through a secret Photoshop Elements process which provides the (cough) little improvement those images might need. These edited images are then saved as “clean” images (IMAGE#_pse) or saved with a (cough) tasteful copyright overlay (IMAGE#_wc) and the individual images saved to files “100817BESTpse” and “100817BESTwc” on my _external_ hard drive.

The memory card is then re-formatted _in_ _the_ _camera_, not on my computer. Re-formatting a memory card using your computer can cause problems after it’s inserted in your camera (or so research tells me).

As needed, I relocate stored images using hand-written notes on an images directory form I created and contained in a three-ring binder marked “Images Directory” (of all things).

Each step of my digital work flow is judiciously separated by meals, sleep, and taking my wife out on special “dates” that permit me to re-introduce myself to her and remind her that she has a very special place in my life. This are the most important steps to be taken in re-working and storing digital images.

god this was too funny, sad and true. I’m scared to death to go find photo’s I never properly titled, named and filed. There’s just not enough alcohol for me to even try.

Ps. I have stuff on a tera station. Everything seemed fine til i photo started face matching everything…holy ongoings of days. It wants to attach a name to everyone in there. I disable the muther Uc-*@er.

A Matter of Perspective (…and Timing)

by Mike Hayward, editor, The Photography Blog

A little something from our “Start the week with a smile” file.   As photographers know, the “perfect” image is often a matter of being in the right place at the right time -  and seeing the image from the right perspective.

Here are a few that are circulating on the Internet… Enjoy!

We hope these images made your day a little brighter! – The Whole 9 Creative Photography Circle


Hilarious! LOL (at least a half dozen times). :)

Excellent! thanks for the laughs!

Definitely made me chuckle and smile :)

My Personal Minions of Promotion

by Cameron McIntyre, member

The Whole 9  Creative Photography Circle

As I stare at my stack of 250 freshly printed promo cards, stuff each card into its thin clear plastic envelope, print up sheets of mailing labels and carefully (and skillfully, may I add) apply the labels to the thin clear plastic envelope, I wonder about the future of these little cards. They are my personal little minions of promotion, sent off into the dark void of the U.S. Postal Service with one task – to get looked at.  As they travel north, south, east and west, I know each card will try his hardest to shuffle his way to the top of the designated recipient’s “in” box or fall under the eyes of the right art buyer or photo editor.

Truthfully, my job of taking the photographs is much easier than their job. I am guided by experience and education, but my minions come fresh out of the printer’s box with no experience or training.  Previous minions have succeeded, a good number have failed, but unfortunately neither are around to provide words of wisdom to the new guys.  My newbie promo cards have a steep learning curve ahead of them and, in all honesty, a short life span. Many will fall victim to the vicious trash bin, some may have it a little better by ending up in the promo card collection box, but only a tiny few will accomplish their goal and be noticed!  Those who succeed may be turned over again and again, talked about, passed around from person to person, and maybe even find a forever home on a cubical or office wall.

Art buyers, photo editors: When a minion arrives at your desk, don’t just cast him out.  He has worked hard to get where he is.  He is not asking for much and he knows his chances are slim.  Please show him a little love and make him feel his efforts were appreciated.  And when you do find a little guy whom you really like, show your love by sticking him with a push pin and fastening him to your office wall.  Sure, it hurts at first, but for them it’s a medal of honor.

CAMERON McINTYRE is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in industrial, technology, architecture and commercial photography. When Cameron is not photographing machinery, micro chips, or a building, he can be found photographing the ocean, the mountains, the desert, and the quite empty spaces that fill the mind.


Hey that card looks great on that cubicle wall, thanks Mike!

And just think: That card will be there forever!

Did a 1000 new business cards recently. Seems to be the minimum. I designed, gave the printer files and he matt printed on 18 pt. stock for $75. I’ll die before a third of them are actually handed out. In fact, I still have many hundreds of previous business cards going back a decade or 2. Promo Cards are different though- You can send them through the mail and If they’re cool enough, people will keep and sometimes even display them. Hope you get some work out of it!

Crib Notes from a Photography Webinar

by Mike Hayward, editor, The Whole 9 Photography Blog

[Full disclosure:  I am not related to anyone at,  nor do I own stock in the company,  nor have they recompensed me in any manner for writing this nice article about them.]

Photoshelter keeps looking better and better to me as an online photo web site.  Photoshelter is (of course) a business first, offering online assistance in getting your very own photo web site up and running, either for next to nothing or lots of money – all depending on how good you want to look and how much of your stuff you think you can realistically sell.  But they’re not too shabby when they simultaneously offer up user-friendly articles, information – even web-based seminars or “webinars.”  Of course, most of that is on their Photoshelter blog side.  Regardless of where they are, the Photoshelter team has their act together.

I’ve attended two of their recent webinars and what they might lack in pizazz they certainly make up in substance.  “Attended” is a much-too-formal word.  What you do is get on their e-mail list, get notified and sign up for one of their webinars, get a confirmation e-mail and, when the date and time rolls around, you click on, kick back, and enjoy… Unless you’re like me – in which case you bar the door to a darkened room, sit at attention in a straight-back chair, and take copious notes.

The most recent Photoshelter webinar featured a visit with photographer Tim Mantoani.

“Tim Who?” someone asks.  Hey, no points off for ignorance here.  In fact – at least for me – that’s the whole point of the Photoshelter webinars:  get to know some respected photographers, hear how they shoot, what they shoot and why, look at some of their better known images, and become interested enough in these people to actually go to their web sites and kick yourself up and down the stairs for not being able to make photographs like them.

(There should be a single word for the simultaneous feelings of hate and envy, appreciation and resentment.  Not remembering what that word is, I will move on using another word.)

I am chagrined, I say, chagrined when I look upon the work of someone like Tim Mantoani.  And then I get more upset as I listen to this guy (on the webinar) and I begin to realize what a nice guy he is.  And then the epiphany comes…  I am blessed by his blessedness.  I will become a better photographer by his grace and talent.  (Go ahead – sneak over to Tim’s website and see if you don’t slowly feel the same way.  Go ahead, take in the Photoshelter webinar with Tim and hear what he has to say about his personal head-on with cancer.  See if that doesn’t choke you up and make you say “Dammit! I don’t want to be like Tim Mantoani!  I WANT TO BE TIM MANTOANI!!)

Waitaminute, waitaminute!!! – Don’t do any of that now.  Stay with me here until I finish.  Here, I’ll let you see his splash page and that’ll have to hold you for the time being:

Okay.  Moving on.

The title of the webinar was “Focus on your passion: Finding yourself in your photography.”  (You can find the replay on the Photoshelter blog site if you have 90 minutes to spare.)  The host/moderator was the ever agreeable Allen Murabayashi, the guy behind Photoshelter (I think).  If you scroll back up to the picture of the Photoshelter team, I believe Allen is the second guy from the right – the one with his hand up (probably directing the photographer).

Here we go with my notes:

“Build your book”  (I’m guessing Tim meant your portfolio.)  This will show everyone that you’re not a one-trick pony and should help lead to different kinds of shooting assignments.

Anytime you’re out on assignment, always find time to shoot for yourself.  As Tim said, “If you are selling photography, then the cheapest price will get you the job.  However, if you are selling the photographer, you have to make the client buy you.  Find time (even when you’re out on assignment) to shoot personal work – and then promote it!”  Tim went on to talk about the many times he would shoot something for fun and how these images were parlayed into money or similar shooting assignments (and more money).

Put your passion into your photography;  if it’s honest and sincere, it will resonate with other people.  One of Tim’s passions was shooting famous photographers with a 20 by 24-inch Polaroid camera (we’re talking about a BIG camera here) to build his terrific “Great Photographs” project.  Here’s what the studio set up looked like:

Quite often Tim would mention some person he would run into while on an assignment and, because Tim had a vision of that person in an image in his head, he would say “I’ll pay you fifty dollars if you…”

A large softbox is often the only lighting equipment he’ll take on a (location) shoot.

If you keep saying things like “I can’t afford to go to…” or “I can’t afford to buy a…” you are denying both your potential and your future as a photographer.

A portfolio tells potential clients that you can deliver the same good work in a certain style over and over again.  (As an example, I invite you to visit photographer Miles Aldridge’s web site and see if he doesn’t blow your mind with the same kind of images over and over again.  You might want to do this after you finish my notes, otherwise I’ll never see you again.)

Always try to get a model release.

“Rejuvenate and re-invent!”  Take something old and make it new.  Take something new and make it old.  Tim has taken classes in making wet plate tintypes and he has a working penny arcade photo booth in his studio.  He has used both techniques to make new and profitable work for himself.

If you’re shooting a group of people, try to make an unspoken connection between all of them.

“You are the author of your own life story.”  “Sometimes the simple pictures are the best” (e.g., shooting white on white.)  “Take the biggest chance when you have the biggest opportunity.”  “Build a support system to keep you on task.”  “Hold yourself accountable.”  “This is not a dress rehearsal.”  Remember:  “You won’t care about what you did in life; You’ll care about what you didn’t do.”  “The roller coaster is more fun than the merry-go-round,” and so on.

“Go talk to people,” Tim advises – and he’s talking specifically about people who are involved in the photography business.  Ask if you can buy them a drink sometime (All you want to do is talk about photography, not sell them a photograph).

The best way to get a foot into an agency, Tim confesses,  is to flatter someone.  (Know what they have done, find something they’ve done that you like, and tell them you like what they did.)

Stay in touch with the people you meet and talk to.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Well, I know you have a lot of website-jumping to do, so I’ll simply say “that’s it.”  And, hey!  Remember to stay in touch!


Photoshelter is indeed a wonderful site. Haven’t tried any webinars yet, but there’s a lot to be found here (including some excellent images). However I’m a little less blown away by Tim Mantoani an Miles Aldridge than you were. There’s no question that both of these photographers are very accomplished, talented, successful commercial artists. But both of them are primarily studio based, judging by my initial perusal of their websites. That’s fine and it’s great having all the controls, lighting, backdrops etc. that a commercial studio provides but it does lead to a certain narrowness of style: mostly professional models, posed, staged, perfectly lit, perfectly sharp and, for me, a just a bit too commercially designed. Frankly they’re both working in Annie Leibovitz territory and for awesomely brilliant work, both conceptually and in execution, she’s the one to learn from. Also, especially in Mantoani’s work, it seemed that a lot of negative space in the compositions was designed to allow for the addition of text rather than being an integral part of the composition itself. That makes perfect sense for images created with editorial and advertising in mind, not so much for art.

Mantoani’s big polaroid series is interesting because it portrays other photographers holding their images, but I didn’t see a great deal of difference between the polaroids and his other studio work. Some of his portraits, especially in the ‘Personal’ series are phenomenal and utilize location very effectively. Others don’t seem to go as deep into the soul behind the eyes as I’d like. For me, great portrait photography is more embodied in the penetrating eye of a Karsh, Cecil Beaton or Irving Penn, and of course both Herb Ritts and Avedon are paragons of combining commercial sensibility with the sublime artistic capture. For me Mantoani’s “athletes on white” shots are the most compelling because although staged, they captured extreme action moments frozen in time and space in a credible way.

Miles Aldridge in his most commercial work is mining much the same territory as Mantoani, although he’s far more fashion and less sports oriented. I don’t see quite as much of the duplication/repetition as you see in his work, although he certainly has certain techniques he utilizes a lot, especially in his often reductivist use of color. But looking through his various portfolios, I find a broad range of subject matter, compositional approaches and design choices. Once again though, we’re mostly looking at posed models and I don’t get much of a sense of authenticity.

When Aldridge does go for emotion and drama, there’s often a stagy, overwrought quality to the images (“Guilt Trip”, “Dolls House”, etc.). Some might call it pretentious. If he were doing this in a self-reflexive way to make a statement about art or culture or to ask questions, then I’d be with him. If not, then the images become more of a simplistic dressing and manipulation of dolls into provocative poses than an investigation. I will admit that even if the latter’s the case, a lot of these pictures are hysterically funny, so I’ll give him points for not taking himself too seriously. At least I hope he doesn’t.

The quasi-religious figuration Aldridge utilizes in a number of images I find more interesting. And when he applies his taste for kinky eroticism to advertising (the “Minuit” watch series for instance) it’s pretty catchy stuff, though far from pushing the envelope. As stretches even further into this territory, I sense him straining for effect (as contrasted with the purer form of this stuff you’ll find in Bourdin, Newton and hell, I’ll put it out there- David Kern).

Certainly the practical advice Tim offers is excellent for all photographers who aspire to commercial success. The fact that he has, against incredible odds, achieved this success himself is inspirational. Here’s a guy who knows what it takes and has gone the distance.

But again, when one uses words like “brilliant”, “memorable” and “inspired”, when it comes to pure awesomeness, maybe I just look for a bit more mystery, revelation and surprise in the images that grab me most. Though one may only rarely, if ever, achieve it, that’s what I think is worth striving for.

By the way, there are some outstanding photographers doing this sort of commercial work right here on theWhole9- ‘nbedu’ and ‘hughhamilton’ come to mind, and for some fascinating erotic photography, check out ‘mjbandes’. I also think newcomer ‘icypaprika’ has done a really interesting series blending conceptual and potentially commercial photography (incorporating text in the original composition).

So, just my 2 ½¢ worth of personal opinion & punditry. ☺

While a style and substance critique of some of the photographers mentioned in the Phototgraphy Blog above may be fair, I’m sorry that dangerousideas overlooked the main intent of the piece – which was to inspire Whole 9 photography members to learn more about the style and substance of other, perhaps more prominent photographers.

Dangerousideas’ opinions and comments seem well founded and well said – and I welcome the opportunity for other Whole 9 photographer-members to learn from what he has to say, whether they agree with him or not. I certainly agree with most of what he has said here, although I do not agree with his artistic statement regarding mystery and metaphor (and you’ll have to go to his Whole 9 home page,, to read it).

I personally do not feel we should minimize the artistic or creative contributions of photographers who work in studios or photographers who work commercially in advertising, editorial, or fashion or those who leave a lot of negative space in their images. (After all, negative space can often have a strong psychological impact.)

Whether or not we are attempting to work in the same or other fields – for money or for personal pleasure – the point is that we can still learn from one another. And dangerousideas will be the first to agree with me.

Absolutely! 100%. Clearly the basic purpose of the original blog entry was to motivate photographers on theWhole9 to check out and learn from other professional and highly successful photographers. I applaud this wholeheartedly. In no way do I wish to give the impression that I discount the creative demands of commercial photography or the artistic value of the images produced. Nor would I contend that negative space can’t have tremendous psychological and compositional value in an image (only that negative space introduced in a composition solely for the purpose adding unknown, extraneous advertising or editorial text can detract from the compositional integrity of the original).

In any event, my intent in offering my thoughts is to stimulate discussion, not pass judgement. Although I write what I believe, I also tend to like playing the devil’s advocate. I want people to disagree with me and to offer their own takes on the subject. Creativephotographycircle puts a lot of time, effort and thought into creating this blog, I urge readers to respond and get involved.

It’s funny that by how reacting to someone’s statement and then actually taking the time to research their point of view can actually stimulate thinking and lead to learning…which is what this post and these comments have caused me to do. It’s wonderful to have a place where spirited discussion can take place knowing that everyone is coming from a place of positive intent and open-mindedness. Thanks to both of you for sharing and broadening my vision.